Join Our Community

Called to Serve

Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors

Called to Serve

What does a sacred activist do?
Andrew  Harvey
Andrew Harvey More by this author
Dec 08, 2009 at 09:00 AM

I had the honor once of being at an intimate gathering in Paris with Nelson Mandela. He spoke to us, calmly and humbly, about the 27 years of imprisonment he had endured and of the lessons he had learned. At the end, none of us could say anything. Then someone asked him if he could sum up what he knew now, at this stage of his life (he was in his early 80s at the time). He thought for a long time and then began: “There is a force in the universe—call it God or spirituality or whatever you like—that wants the victory of truth and justice. This force will help you if you are steady, humble, brave, and patient. Never, ever give up, however bad things get.” And then he smiled a smile that had the force of soft lightning.

In 1989 I was in Oslo to attend the celebrations for the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I shall never forget the joy that radiated everywhere and shone in the faces of even the stodgiest-looking Norwegian officials when that holy, kind man walked up, smiling and waving and bowing, to receive the prize. For all the worldly pomp, everyone knew it was a sacred occasion, and many shed tears of gratitude for the life of the man before them. He has done more than anyone else I know to demonstrate the force of Sacred Activism in the middle of horror and tragedy.

The day before, I had interviewed His Holiness for Elle magazine. At the end of our hour together, spent in his small, bare hotel room, I stood up, plucked up my courage, and asked him, “What is the meaning of life?” His Holiness flung back his head and roared with laughter. Then he grew intensely concentrated and still. “The meaning of life,” he said quietly, leaning forward to touch my forehead with his, “is to embody compassion. Anyone can discover this. When you discover this and live it, you discover your truest nature and share its joy.”

In 2000, on a stormy gray day, I stood on the beach in Galilee where Jesus is said to have appeared to his disciples for the last time. It was a small, pebbly, utterly unremarkable beach, but something in its atmosphere brought me to my knees. Although I have a lover’s quarrel with the churches erected in his name, Jesus has always been the greatest love of my heart. I loved him as a small boy, and I shall love him until the day I die; I pray that my last thoughts will be of him.

It was on this beach that Jesus ate a meal of freshly caught fish with Peter and a group of other disciples. I had my small family Bible with me, and I turned to the last chapter of St. John’s Gospel and read out these words quietly:

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, “Simon son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” He saith unto him, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.” He saith unto him, “Feed my lambs.”

He saith unto him again the second time, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?” He saith unto him, “Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.” He saith unto him, “Feed my lambs.”

He saith unto him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?” Peter was grieved, because he said unto him the third time, “Lovest thou me?” And he said unto him, “Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee.” Jesus saith unto him, “Feed my sheep.”

I had known these words since my earliest childhood, but until that day I had never experienced their full force. That day I understood that when the love that moves the sun and stars starts to become real inside you, it compels you to act in whatever way you can to “feed my sheep.” That is how you know that you are starting to become an authentic spiritual being.

About Author
Andrew  Harvey
Andrew Harvey is an internationally renowned religious scholar, writer, and teacher, and the author of over 30 books, including the critically acclaimed Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi, as well as Journey to Ladakh, The Return of the Mother, Continue reading